Trump questions Britain's handling of Brexit, eyes bilateral trade deal

Helping hand Donald Trump welcomes Leo Varadkar to the White House

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was "surprised at how badly" the Brexit negotiations have gone.

While Varadkar prepared to have breakfast with Pence and a who's who of Irish-Americans, including the president of Notre Dame, Trump tweeted an open invitation to Britain to free itself of the European Union and its trade rules.

When pressed on what advice he gave to May, Trump answered: "Well, I just told her what I would do and how I would do it".

"I'm surprised how badly it's all gone from the standpoint of the negotiation", Trump told reporters at the White House during his meeting with visiting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. "I regret that Brexit's happening".

Trump said that Brexit is "tearing countries apart". I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner, frankly.

This evening he will attend the annual Irish Fellowship St. Patrick's Day dinner, attended by over 1,000 Irish Americans.

"This has been a tradition where we dispense from our differences, whether it is political or whether they are competitive in any other way, and where we come together and celebrate", she said.

The House of Commons will hold another series of crunch votes later today focusing on whether to delay Brexit by requesting an extension to Article 50, the legal mechanism countries use to leave the EU. Mr Trump said he had seen Mr O'Rourke's announcement and said: "I've never seen so much hand movement". On Thursday, two weeks ahead of the scheduled departure from the EU, British lawmakers overwhelmingly backed May's motion to extend the Brexit deadline amid disagreements over the withdrawal plan.

"The Irish government has played a very adversarial role", Gardiner said.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar brought his partner, Matthew Barrett, with him to breakfast with Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday.

It was potentially the thorniest meeting in Mr Varadkar's packed Washington schedule but it passed off well, with Mr Pence promising to visit Ireland with his mother Nancy to see their ancestral home. He said he is planning a trip to Ireland with his mother, who is first-generation Irish-American (two of Pence's grandparents were born in Ireland).

He added: "The United States and Ireland are bound together with ties of both kinship and friendship, a really great friendship". But it will all work out.

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